Happy New Year! – 2019 Foundation Recap

Welcome to the “Soaring 20’s” folks.  At the foundation, we wrapped up the year by benefiting more families than we ever dreamed possible in our first year of operation.  We sincerely appreciate all of the support and giving of our various communities which enable us to make a significant impact in the child loss community, both within TX and even nationally.

With support from our “Restaurant Night” and “Inaugural Golf Tournament”, 2019 turned into a large fundraising year, with over $98,000 raised to support the child loss community.  Of those funds raised, over $22,000 were distributed over the course of the year directly to 15 beneficiary families experiencing such tragedy, with a majority of the balance still available for families in need in the foreseeable future.  It is very important to us to operate the foundation in a way that produces the highest percentage possible of mission/community benefit of all donations/funds received.  Thanks to all of our board members, volunteers, fundraising sponsors and community advocates for your time and resources over the last 12+ months to allow us to support that goal.  And, thanks to our fearless and selfless leader, Tyler (a wonderful wife and Rhett’s loving Mommy), for dedicating your personal/professional life to this cause!

While the holiday season can be a rough time for our family, the Foundation was very active and wrapped up the year on a high note with two very generous gifts.  We were selected to receive a grant from the One Wing Foundation, a non-profit whose mission is to raise funds and distribute financial assistance to organizations that provide resources for the medical, physical and grief recovery of bereaved parents who have experienced pregnancy or infant loss in the state of Texas.  Additionally, we were selected as the recipient of a gift of $5,000 from Clune Construction, who selects a charity within each of their markets annually, in order to give back to their community.  Again, we can’t thank our community enough for your generosity!

We’ve got two events in the planning stages for 2020…a Benefit Concert supporting the foundation at The Post at River East in Fort Worth in March, followed by our Second Annual Charity Golf Tournament in September.  We hope we can count on your support!

We are encouraged by the impact our Rhett has had already, and look forward to continue our support of those facing child loss.  If you know of anyone within your own community that could use our support, or needs another parent to talk to, please reach out.

Inaugural Rhett Sullivan Foundation Golf Tournament an Overwhelming Success!

We had such a great turnout to the Rhett Sullivan Foundation Golf Tournament and Dinner on September 9th at Cowboys Golf Club.  Through our sponsors, donors and attendees we raised $75,000 in proceeds from the event!  These funds will be used over the next year to support families facing the tragedy of early child loss, with financial assistance, grief support and other resources.

The success of our inaugural major fundraiser has simply exceeded any possible expectations we may have had.  We truly appreciate all of the support we’ve received from our sponsors, volunteers and the community around us.  While we initially set out to support our immediate community and counties, we believe these funds will allow Rhett, to spread his wings and touch many other families across the region. 

The event received support from over 30 sponsors in the North Texas region, two great silent auctions, a sold-out crowd of 144 golfers in the field and another 50 plus attendees to the post-round dinner.  The event was emceed by George Dunham, of DFW’s Sportsradio 1310 The Ticket, and was attended by local celebrity guests Craig Ludwig and Tony Casillas, former players of the Dallas Stars and Dallas Cowboys, respectively.  Highlights of the event included a Ballistics Golf Long Drive contest, where golfers could launch their drive from a modified rifle over 400 yards, and a “Beat Rhett’s Dad” closest to the pin contest on the Par 3 third hole.

For the dinner portion we were joined at the event by three other local families who have experienced infant child loss, as well, honoring those families and memorializing their babies with a special video tribute explaining the difficulties of such tragedy, and how the foundation can help.  Each table at the event memorialized a baby who was lost too soon, with their names and stories framed within each centerpiece.

We’re so proud of the impact this foundation has had on our community, and the impact Rhett continues to have in our lives.  It was very humbling to see all the golfers, sponsors and attendees show up and support such a worthy cause that is so close to us.

Tournament Results

1st Place – Greg Dusckas, Tony Casillas, Huck McNeill, Brian Ricketts

2nd Place – Alan Ritchie, Stephen Humphrey, Paul Higgins, Corbett Nichter

3rd Place – Shane LeClair, Craig Ludwig, Tyler Chase, Jett Ashley

Rhett’s Story

At our tournament this year we will have a baby remembrance of babies that our foundation has helped, or that we have met along our journey of establishing and running the foundation.  We believe it is important to share their stories and say their names.

We are remembering our son, Rhett Matthew Sullivan today and every day. Establishing this foundation, and running it day to day, is a constant reminder of him being gone. We’ve always talked about the importance of remembering our lost babies and saying their names…not being afraid to talk about infant loss. Rhett will always be loved and missed, but we’re proud to maintain his legacy through the work of the foundation. This is Rhett’s story….

Rhett Matthew Sullivan

July 3, 2017- September 22, 2017

“Rhett was our third child and first baby boy. Rhett was such a sweet baby.  He would love to watch and listen to his sisters, Hudson and Emory, play, sing, dance whatever they were doing he wanted to be there. He was such a healthy baby almost doubled his birth weight by 2 months and just the perfect fit for our family. On September 20th we took him to his sitter’s house and kissed him goodbye, not knowing that would be the last time we saw him as our active 2.5 month old baby boy. I got a call that morning saying Rhett had stopped breathing and he was being rushed by ambulance to the hospital. The nurses and doctors finally got his heart beating and pulse back, unfortunately it was determined he had gone 45 minutes to an 1 hour without consistent oxygen outside of the cpr efforts. Due to lasting effects of not having oxygen for so long, Rhett passed away on September 22, 2017 at 8:29 pm.

I just miss him being here and being a part our life physically.  I feel I missed out on raising Rhett, I missed out on seeing Ryan raise Rhett. I think daily of all the milestones Rhett would have reached by now, crawling, walking, talking, saying mommy….

I handle grief through any type of distraction and keeping busy.  However, there are always those triggers that come of out nowhere and then you are forced to think about the impact of losing Rhett and how our lives are different now. Even though these triggers are unwelcome at times, it is nice to also think about and let out some pent up emotions.  It is so important to give yourself the grace to grieve, as it is not only needed it is necessary. We will always love Rhett and in turn we will always grieve him.

Emotionally, it is devastating and it something you don’t fully understand until you have been faced with it.  We felt lost and didn’t know what to do.  Death is not something society wants to talk about much less talk about a baby dieing. But thankfully we found friends, family and other loss parents who would listen to us, say Rhett’s name, ask about him and ask us how we were and weren’t afraid of hearing the real answer of not doing well.    

Financially, no one is prepared or expecting to pay the costs of a funeral after just having a baby.  We were very fortunate that we had family and friends that rallied around us financially. We in turn used most of those funds to start the Rhett Sullivan Foundation.”

~Rhett’s Mommy

Charlie’s Story

At our tournament this year we will have a baby remembrance of babies that our foundation has helped, or that we have met along our journey of establishing and running the foundation.  We believe it is important to share their stories and say their names.

Today we remember Charlie, Charlie left us far too soon and is greatly missed by his family.  This is Charlie’s story….

Charles Amos Hornback – “Charlie”


We found out during the pregnancy that Charlie had some complications to include heart malformation and spina bifida, among others. We made the decision together to put our faith in God and to see the pregnancy through, knowing that the odds were not in Charlie’s favor. Our story is not about the “sudden” loss of a child, but a progression through a pregnancy filled with specialist after specialist, prayer after prayer, and clinging onto whatever bit of hope we could muster. In the end, we were able to hold our breathless child close to 12 hours. And for me personally, those 12 hours were the hardest hours of my life, but I would not trade them for anything. Some people only dream about Angels, I got to hold one for 12 hours.

Daily we miss simply the joy of Charlie’s presence.  Being a religious individual, I move forward with the faith that we will someday be reunited in heaven. I lost my mother at the age of 5 and I’m convinced that she is in heaven “raising” my little boy.

Emotionally the loss of Charlie has affected us profoundly.  Coping takes many different forms. A husband and wife will often find that their coping mechanisms are vastly different which can lead to anger and resentment. A friend of ours graciously paid for a year of counseling which I believe was vital to saving our marriage. Grief is not about “moving on”, it’s about “moving forward”.

Honestly, finances were the least of my concern but I know this is not the case for everyone. My employee provided good insurance. And miraculously, our hospital bill from the day of birth and subsequent days in the hospital disappeared. We are not sure if a family member anonymously paid it or if the hospital did not bill us. Either way, I know this took a lot of stress out of the situation.

I think the Rhett Sullivan Foundation is a great way to honor your child! Providing resources to families is huge and also having the ability to connect with other families that have experienced loss is vital to moving forward.

~Charlie’s Daddy

Tenley’s Story

At our tournament this year we will have a baby remembrance of babies that our foundation has helped, or that we have met along our journey of establishing and running the foundation.  We believe it is important to share their stories and say their names.

We are featuring beautiful Tenley today. I met Tenley’s mommy, Meagan, when she reached out to learn more about the Rhett Sullivan Foundation.  Meagan and her husband are in the process of starting Tenley’s Tiny Touch in honor their sweet little girl. This is Tenley’s story….

Tenley Grae Harbison

November 19, 2018

“In late 2016 Meagan and I had been trying to get pregnant for several months and Meagan felt that something wasn’t right. After consulting with our OB/GYN, we decided to start meeting with an infertility specialist.  Meagan and I decided to proceed with in vitro fertilization. During this process, as the husband, you watch your wife get labs and ultrasounds done frequently, you give her multiple injections at home every day in the hopes that it will be successful. You pull all of your savings and retirement in hopes to bring a healthy child into this world. After our retrieval, we ended up with 3 beautiful embryos. We were so happy.  The following month we had a successful transfer and were overjoyed that we were going to start our family. Pregnancy was not easy for Meagan. She endured hyperemesis gravidarum.  We found out we were going to have a baby girl, our Tenley Grae.  Tenley continued to grow into a healthy baby girl. The Sunday of Tenley’s 36th week, Meagan was a little concerned because she wasn’t moving much, however we were told that as she continued to grow that her movements would not be as noticeable. Monday at 4 am, Meagan woke up to some signs of early labor. We made our way to the hospital with excitement to be welcoming our baby girl into our family. When we arrived to the hospital, after multiple tests we were told that she didn’t have a heartbeat. Our world stopped. Our little girl would not be returning home with us. In the following hours we cried, we were in disbelief, we were in shock. After multiple hours, Tenley was born. She was a beautiful, healthy baby girl with no heartbeat. She had a hyper coiled umbilical cord that caused her to lose blood supply. The following hours and days were spent getting to spend time as a family with our little girl.

We miss everything about our baby girl. It’s often the little things, like her smell, the color of her hair. We feel like we are missing out on getting to know her personality, her baby coos, her smile, her cry. The things that most parents take for granted are the things we are missing.  Some days are easier than others. Doing things in our daughter’s name helps us find happiness. We started an organization to provide comfort items and resources to other parents who go through infant loss.

Emotionally, she changed us, the loss of our child changed us to the core.  We not only had to pay for her funeral and headstone, but we chose to purchase a burial plot for us to be buried next to her. Between funeral and medical expenses, this has been extremely taxing on us financially despite having a good income.

I think it is outstanding that there are organizations like The Rhett Sullivan Foundation out there to truly help families by relieving the financial stress so the family can focus on the grieving process.”

~Tenley’s Daddy & Mommy